WhatsApp will apparently give users a little more control over the photos and videos they share on the messaging app. The company recently introduced a new feature to iOS and Android beta testers that allows them to send disappearing messages.
As reported in WABetaInfo, WhatsApp released the “View Once” feature for iOS users on Friday, shortly after rolling it out for Android users late June. The feature allows users to send photos and videos that will disappear from WhatsApp chats after they are viewed once. It seems to be very similar to the feature offered on Instagram and Facebook Messenger, although Instagram allows senders to let recipients see the content again before it disappears.
And of course, all of these features build the formula that was popularized by the original vanishing media network: Snapchat.
According to screenshots taken by WABetaInfo, the app will not prevent others from taking screenshots. The content disappears in the sender’s chat and in the recipient’s chat if View Once is selected. Senders will be able to see if their content has been displayed in the chat by looking up for an “Opened” message. For Android users, the feature was also available for group chats.
“For more privacy, the image or video will disappear from the chat after the recipient opens it once,” it says in the app’s feature message. “Remember that people can always take screenshots.”
The outlet reports that WhatsApp will not notify users if the recipients have taken screenshots of the content that disappears. It explains that this is because there is no foolproof way to block users from taking screenshots and maintains that claiming to do so will give users a false sense of security. Alas, who knows what people would send. Considering the things people send in messages, even when they know others can take screenshots, this is probably accurate.
WhatsApp CEO Will Cathcart and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg personally confirmed this feature to WABetaInfo in early June, so it’s safe to say we’ll all get it soon. Zuckerberg also mentioned a “disappearance mode”, which would make all your messages in all chats disappear and make your WhatsApp experience “fleeting”, in his words.
I guess I guess some really private (or paranoid) people will dig into disappearance mode, but as someone who references back to WhatsApp messages to find their friend’s addresses and other important info, it’s going to cause me a big big problem. To each his own, though.